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Key North Sea oil pipeline network faces closures after leaks

07 May 2013

The UK North Sea Brent pipeline system may have to close briefly during repairs to the legs of the Cormorant Alpha platform, Abu Dhabi National Energy Company (Taqa) said on May 6. The system, which carries 90,000 barrels of oil a day from the North Sea, was shut in January and March after oil leaks were detected at the Cormorant Alpha platform, operated by Taqa.

The Brent pipeline system goes through Taqa's Cormorant Alpha platform
The Brent pipeline system goes through Taqa's Cormorant Alpha platform

The 10,000 barrel per day (bpd) Cormorant Alpha platform is expected to remain shut for months to repair a leak. 

'Although no closure of the Brent System Pipeline is planned as part of this inspection, repair and maintenance programme, it has been and could in future be subject to temporary closure on a precautionary basis should this be required during this programme of work,' the company said in a statement.

Production from up to 27 oilfields is funnelled through the Brent pipeline, which passes through Cormorant Alpha. The Brent system was shut down as a safety precaution after the leaks were detected from other pipes within the same leg of the platform.

Taqa told The Daily Telegraph that it had now decided to keep the platform – which itself produces about 10,000 barrels a day – shut for several months' worth of maintenance.
If more leaks occurred during the repair process, it could be forced to shut down the Brent system again, the company warned.

"The leak was an oil leak but oil always contains a little bit of gas, which potentially then could be an explosion risk," said Leo Koot, managing director of Taqa's UK oil and gas business.

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